Friday, June 25, 2021

Small: Tax cuts put Oklahoma on a better path

Tax cuts put Oklahoma on a better path
By Jonathan Small

The How Money Walks website shows that Oklahoma lost $1.79 billion in adjusted annual gross income from 1992 to 2018 with many earners fleeing to states that have no income tax. This year, lawmakers took an important step to reduce or reverse that outflow by cutting the state penalty on work—Oklahoma’s income tax.

Thanks to the outcome of this year’s session, Oklahoma’s top income tax rate is poised to fall from 5 percent to 4.75 percent. That will still be far higher than the zero-percent rate in nine states that don’t tax wages at all, but it is also much better than the rates in most other states. Only a handful of states that impose an income tax will have a lower rate than Oklahoma.

In our region, Oklahoma will trail only Texas, which has no income tax, and Colorado, which has a 4.63 percent rate.

The ideal situation would involve full elimination of Oklahoma’s income tax, but cutting the rate is a step in the right direction.

Investment goes where it is wanted. The presence of an income tax is a strong deterrent to job creators, and the higher the rate the greater the deterrent. That’s why the nine states that impose no income tax on wages experienced a net increase in income from 1992 to 2018, according to How Money Walks.

More tax cuts coming? State on track to save $884M for next year's budget

Governor Stitt praises Legislature for prioritizing savings and strategic investments

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 21, 2021)— The Board of Equalization, chaired by Governor Kevin Stitt, voted today to certify revenue and expenditures for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget that includes an estimated $884 million in unspent/unencumbered funds.

Specifically, the Board of Equalization certified $9,064,748,251 in authorized FY22 expenditures and an estimated $9,948,810,340 available in certified and authorized funds plus cash.

The FY22 appropriations increased 23% from FY21 actual expenditures, which is due in large part to the improving economic conditions in the state.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Lucas joins letter calling on ATF to withdraw proposed stabilizing brace restrictions

Lucas Advocates for Rights of Law-Abiding Gun Owners, Calls on ATF to Withdraw Stabilizing Brace Guidance

Washington, DC – Earlier this week, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) joined in sending a letter led by Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-08) to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland and Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Marvin Richardson urging the Department of Justice to withdraw proposed guidance on Stabilizing Braces.

In their letter, the Members outlined that the ATF has repeatedly stated, “the brace concept was inspired by the needs of disabled combat veterans who still enjoy recreational shooting but could not reliably control heavy pistols without assistance." As the ATF acknowledges there are legitimate uses for certain stabilizing braces, the letter points out that including a $200 tax in its rule is not an attempt to curb gun violence as suggested, but a direct tax on disabled combat veterans.

Stitt helps secure electric vehicle manufacturing investment; 2,000 jobs coming to Pryor

Canoo to bring more than 2,000 jobs to Oklahoma and position state as innovation leader

FORT WORTH, Texas (June 17, 2021) – Governor Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce secured a historic electric vehicle manufacturing investment today as Canoo announced a commitment to create more than 2,000 jobs and build its first mega microfactory on a 400-acre site at the MidAmerica Industrial Park located near Tulsa, Okla.

Canoo Chairman and CEO Tony Aquila invited Governor Stitt and Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Scott Mueller to the company’s inaugural investor relations day at Texas Motor Speedway to make the announcement.

“Oklahoma has always been a pioneer in the energy industry, and this partnership with Canoo shows that our state is an innovation leader in electric vehicle technology,” Governor Stitt said. “We are thrilled to partner with Canoo and Chairman and CEO Tony Aquila to provide high-paying jobs for Oklahomans and position America as the global leader for vehicle manufacturing for decades to come.”

Aquila praised the governor for his focus on innovation to diversify the state’s economy and Oklahoma’s business-friendly policies.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Gov. Stitt closes out 2021 legislative session action with 2 "pocket" vetoes

Governor Kevin Stitt took no action on the two remaining legislative bills on his desk, effecting a "pocket veto" on SB 236 and HB 1010. With this, the chapter finally closes on the 2021 Regular Session. Once census data is finalized, it is expected (and announced, I believe) that Governor Stitt will call a special session in the fall to deal solely with congressional district redistricting (all the rest of redistricting has already been dealt with).

In review, Governor Stitt's office showed the following statistics on measures that we sent to his desk for action:

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

OSDE uncovers $1.6 million in fraud at child-feeding sites during pandemic

OSDE uncovers $1.6 million in fraud at child-feeding sites during pandemic 

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 7, 2021) – In the wake of schools, community organizations and nonprofits having raced to provide free meals to children during the pandemic, the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) uncovered a record amount of fraud at child-feeding sites across the state. Over $1.6 million in federal funds were improperly claimed for reimbursement since April 2020, OSDE officials found. The majority of improper claims were reported at child-care sites. 

The agency’s Office of Child Nutrition Services uncovered the fraudulent activity through a number of accountability measures, including an unannounced review process implemented in 2016 under State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister.

“We are incredibly grateful for our schools and community partners that stepped up to ensure the nutritional needs of children were met over the last year, as hundreds of schools provided summer meals for the first time. Oklahoma families rely on these services, and we are committed to ensuring integrity for these programs that fuel young learners,” Hofmeister said. “Oklahoma will continue to leverage federal dollars to help our children gain supports to be healthy and successful, and it is our charge to safeguard that valuable investment by taxpayers.”